March 2nd 2016.
“ADEBOLAMI WHERE ARE YOU??! HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS?”
“Mummy, you just woke me up, how would I have heard the news? Wait, what news?” Debola said rubbing her eyes
“its Funke….” The person at the other end of the call said, her voice trailing away.
Debola’s heart skipped a bit, She got up from bed almost immediately.
“mummy, talk to me!!” She could hear distant talking and crying on the phone.
Then her mom told her. Funke was dead, She was confused. Funke dead how? This was the same Funke that was supposed to get married on Saturday.
Her mother was saying “she went to buy pepper with her mother for the wedding and those animals butchered her, this is really sad, my sister’s first child was supposed to get married and see what the devil fired her with! she is in shambles, she said they were running together when the fight started and suddenly she didn’t see her by her side, she turned back and saw her lifeless on the floor! The worst part is she didn’t even stop, she couldn’t stop! I’ve booked my fight for Lagos tomorrow, they ruined…” when Debola hung up.
She didn’t even bother asking what killed her. She stepped outside to put on the generator and turned the TV on.
“YORUBA AND HAUSA FIGHT IN MILE 12 LAGOS”
“LAGOS ON FIRE AS FIGHT ERUPTS BETWEEN YORUBAS AND HAUSAS”
And then Aisha called.
Chioma lives in mile12.
Debola would come to remember this day. The day her favorite cousin was murdered, it was the same day Chioma’s house was burnt down by the angry hausa traders. She would come to remember the specific words Aisha used. “I heard Uche was burnt in the fire, I don’t know if Chioma was in the house too, I’ve called and called, her number is not reachable.” She would come to remember the cold and restless night, the tears, the painful sting she felt in her heart, the what-ifs that ran through her mind. Until Chioma showed up in front of her door 3days later to say, I’m alright, I didn’t die.
But now, she sat on her bed drinking vodka straight from the bottle without a glass,tears rolling down, thinking about how she had thought the world had ended because Vitalis ended their 5year-old relationship because according to him she deserved better; while her bestfriend and cousin had been butchered. They deserved better, a better death at least. Everybody deserved better. She had taken a week break from everyone, even work because she needed time alone to sort her heart break, but now she felt what it really meant to have your heart broken. She remembered the last time they saw at her house, the conversation they had..
“The situation is bad I know, but what can we do. May God help us.” Aisha said as she picked the remote to change the station. She found E! “oh, keeping up with the kardashians! Nice!”
“It’s not enough that we just sit down and do nothing about it! Its not enough that we just leave everything in God’s hands!” Debola was practically shouting now. Aisha looked at Debola with the why-are-you-taking-it-so-personal look and turned to focus on the TV ignoring her.
“Madam calm down, this is not a new issue in Nigeria; the northerners kill each other every day.” Chioma said walking out of the kitchen with three empty glasses and jar of freshly squeezed-exquisite-homemade orange juice, as Chioma always describes her juice to anyone she had the opportunity to tell whether they cared to listen or not.
“See ehn, one day when we make this money, travelling out of this country is the best” Chioma continued as she sat on the sofa pouring the juice in the three glasses.
“Really ? coming from someone whose grandfather was personally involved with Biafra, I’m shocked”
Aisha turned suddenly. Dazed.
Na wa o
Then she turned back to the TV determined not to be part of this discussion.
“Okay madam activist, whatever point you were trying to make with that statement is invalid here because whatever the fulanis or whatever they call themselves do, does not really matter because your president will always defend them. Shey you all wanted change? So please abeg abeg don’t come here giving me all these lectures” Chioma was pissed now that Debola decided to go all historical on her.
“That’s the problem!” And it was the problem. She always thought ibo people had not moved on from Biafra and even the last election, that they secretly wanted to sabotage Nigeria just so they could say I told you so.
“We should all move on already! This country belongs to all of us, blaming one person or the other won’t do much, what you just said is confirmation and it is just so petty.”
“So please what is your point?” Aisha said drinking her juice, the show had ended. Now she felt like contributing to this discussion.
“I don’t know”
“I see” Chioma laughed
Aisha laughed too.
“So you’re just all-talk”
Debola was silent. Disappointed she didn’t really have a point. She didn’t even know where all the sudden patriotism came from, she didn’t even pay tax or obeyed traffic laws, and she gave bribe most of the time, that was the only way to survive in Lagos.
But this particular morning she read in the news about the killings in the north, she called her mother in Abuja who said they had almost killed Aunty Florence in Kaduna and she wept. Almost. Yet she wept. She wasn’t even really close to Aunty Florence; she was just their old-time neighbor.
“I just feel as youths we should be politically aware and interested, not think we can run away at any time” She dropped her half empty cup of juice on the table.
Then she continued “We feel these killings are far from us, or that the muslim/christain fight cannot happen in the west or east or south for that matter, but it doesn’t mean we can’t show concern or at least be interested! Not watching keeping up with the kardashians when the nation is mourning and acting like it’s none of our business, One day we’ll realize the northern problem is our problem in general.”
Then there was this silence, this loud deafening silence, even with the distant laughter on the TV. They were both staring at her. Debola laughed. “I should totally put this on my blog!”
Then they all laughed.
Debola its fine, we’re safe. Lagos is safe.
….Lagos is safe indeed. And the thought of this made Debola cry even more.
My heart goes out to everyone that lost something, anything in the Mile 12 crisis. I cannot, not write about it.